Victoria Beckham Fall 2014 RTW

David Beckham and the four children he shares with his wife, Victoria, emerged from backstage moments before the lights went down at her show today. The Beckhams know how to make an entrance, don’t they? Business is going well for Victoria Beckham. Last month she announced the brand will be opening its first store on London’s Dover Street this fall, and a new New York office and showroom indicate that she’s got her sights on a Manhattan location before too long.

There was nice growth on the runway as well. Last season Beckham might’ve gone too far in the boyish direction for her client base. She made adjustments here, elongating the silhouette first and foremost, and adding femme touches to what was, all in all, a sharply tailored collection. A substantial gold chain replaced a button closure on a winter white cashmere coat, the back of which was sharply pleated in a lighter-weight silk, while a deep organza ruffle decorated the hem of a tunic sweatshirt. Prints made a comeback, and there was sparkle to spare on a midi-skirt worn with a cowl-neck knit.

Speaking of entrance making, it was good to see Beckham redirect some of her attention to eveningwear. She reports that it’s a top-selling category for the brand, and it was easy to see why in the case of a pleated black georgette goddess gown with an ivory cashmere camisole underneath. Cate Blanchett will in all likelihood wear Armani to the Oscars, but if not, we’ve found her dress.



Rag & Bone Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

Paint-spattered denim. Cargo pants. Lumberjack check, name-embroidered mechanics’ jackets, and pinstripe tailoring. And Cosby sweaters? At first, it was difficult to discern the through line in the new Rag & Bone collection. Indeed, speaking backstage before today’s show, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville themselves acknowledged that this season’s outing was “a mix of a lot of things,” and that was 100 percent true. And then, as the show settled in your mind, it hit you: This was a paean to the working man! Not just the working-class man, although his presence was keenly felt in those name-embroidered jackets, like the ones sported by Jourdan Dunn and Georgia May Jagger. But also the soldier, and the man of the land. Even the grandees in their pinstripe, heading to their shiny office towers, even they got a look-see, and so too the late-eighties, tracksuit-wearing, dole-collecting Madchester lad, who would have gone to work in the factory, if the factory hadn’t shut down. Paycheck men, all of them.

Moreover, Wainwright and Neville’s egalitarian vision was large enough to include a wisecracking obstetrician with a large, happy family who worked out of his Brooklyn brownstone. The squiggly “Cosby” knits were a standout here—a collaboration with Coogi, the Australian brand that made the original versions back in the eighties. The feral hand-knit jackets were another highlight, albeit one rather difficult to connect back to the theme. But then, who cares? Consistency is a virtue much overpraised, and that “working man” hypothesis is probably rubbish. This was a collection that was more about great pieces than any ambitious conceptual or aesthetic proposition. Mohair check hoodie? Want. Baggy cream-colored jeans paint-spattered by hand? Need. Baggy knee-high boots in red? Have to have. And that whole Joan Smalls look, head to toe. Start saving your pennies, working girls. There was a mix of a lot of things here you’re going to want to buy.


ZAC Zac Posen Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

For Fall, Zac Posen was determined to bring more separates into his reliable mix of ZAC Zac Posen frocks. “It adds a 9-to-5 balance,” said the designer in his Tribeca studio space, his team stitching away at the main collection in the sewing room next door. ZAC Zac Posen is his “secondary” offering, the one affordable enough for his evening-gown customer to buy multiple pieces of—a $1,000 day dress here, a $375 silk blouse there—and transform herself into a day-to-night Zac Posen woman.

The question is: Does she want that? Even when he’s making tops and bottoms, Posen likes his girl dressed up, which can look a little old-fashioned for day. Leather skirts and jackets, printed with a dark red plaid better suited to wool, just didn’t sit right. And to-the-rib-cage trousers, fashioned with multiple pleats at the hip to give them the silhouette of a long skirt, seemed impractical. The freshest looks were the long-and-short dresses and pussy-bow blouses in a pressed-flower print the color of a nectarine. They were polished but not too serious. The burnout knits, on the other hand, were too “granny’s attic” to really last in a working woman’s wardrobe. She’d much prefer one of his sharp blazers in herringbone stretch jacquard.

Lucky for her, Posen included a lot of distinctively seamed dresses and jackets. Those pieces were good enough to make more than a few of his special-occasion customers everyday ones, too.


Thakoon Addition Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

In recent seasons, Thakoon Panichgul’s secondary line, Addition, has grown beyond the pretty dresses and printed pajamas it started off with to include more menswear-inspired tailoring and fresh styling ideas. But where Panichgul piled on the layers for Pre-Fall, here he peeled them off. “It’s about taking foundation pieces and then twisting them so they look slightly disheveled, like they’re coming undone,” he said, describing a girl who tosses on her boyfriend’s oversize cardigan (with nothing underneath, naturally), plucks a skirt off the floor, and dashes out the door. Another sweater came nonchalantly shrugged off the shoulder, adding an edge to the kicky LBD it was paired with. Shirting has emerged as a strong category for the designer.

He showed crisp button-ups peeking out from cozy knits, and added poplin touches to the sleeves and hem of a snug blazer. Outerwear highlights included a hooded cape cut from gray banker’s felt, ombré plaid toppers, and a classic duffle coat. All in all, a strong Addition outing that shined ideas on themes—artful dishevelment, men’s shirting, statement coats—that we expect to see more of when the Fall shows get underway next week.


New York Fashion Week – Organic By John Patrick

John Patrick has long been an earth-obsessed designer. But this season, he turned his attention toward space. His latest Organic collection found him mashing up looks from the era of the moon shot—here, a long-sleeve jumpsuit in a material that looked like Tyvek  there, pleated and pencil skirts with the modest hemlines favored by Right Stuff-era housewives. The fabric mix was intriguing—Patrick leaned hard on technicals, in particular sheer materials with a plastic sheen, but he also integrated a lot of cozy textures, such as quilted cotton, felted wool, and fur. The latter looked particularly appealing on this slushy day; meanwhile, the crispy high-neck blouses had a more trans-seasonal appeal. That approach was astute. You could even say, it was typically down-to-earth.


New York Fashion Week – Rachel Roy Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

The designer has relocated her family to Los Angeles. “What, really, do we have to do other than what’s right for ourselves?” she posed at a preview in her New York studio. In a way, the West Coast move has given Roy a fresh outlook on her business, which just turned ten years old. Her message for Fall was “to make looking feminine-but-cool as simple as possible,” she said. With this in mind, Roy offered several dresses that gave the impression of layered separates. For example, the fifth look appeared to be a lace slip worn underneath a floral V-neck top and slim navy pencil skirt; in fact, it was just one piece, just one decision for her customer to make instead of several. Throughout the lineup, Roy collaged together materials such as printed silk and delicate Chantilly on high-slit skirts, or Lurex-flecked tweed with iridescent jacquard on novelty suits. At times, the result felt a bit overwrought (the addition of metallic leather details didn’t help). Still, the handful of head-to-toe Venetian red looks here was nothing short of striking, and a gray wool topper was a nice fusion of the classic peacoat and a tough bomber jacket.


New York Fashion Week – Lisa Perry Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

Lisa Perry typically starts the design process by looking to one of her favorite pieces of artwork or an architect she admires. For Fall, her muse came from an unexpected place: Instagram. “His name is @donalddrawbertson, and he makes art out of gaffer tape,” said Perry, sitting on a bench in the middle of her Madison Avenue boutique, which had been taped up by the artist, whose actual name is Donald Robertson. (He also happens to be one of the founders of MAC Cosmetics.)

Robertson transformed Perry’s boutique into a white lacquered space covered with lines of black tape that formed scattered geometric shapes. The boots and heels worn by the models, designed in collaboration with Manolo Blahnik, had a similar look. So it was wise that Perry stayed away from prints this season, save for a maze pattern that actually clashed quite nicely with the background.

Instead, she focused on silhouette, creating exaggerated versions of her favorite 1960s styles. A Kelly green felt trapeze dress had a back so broad that it was more like a cape, and a purple felt tunic dress was given more shape with rounded shoulders and a deep V-neck. Fabric was also a big consideration. Along with that aforementioned felt—which took color very well, and was also used to make several pairs of nice-fitting wide-leg trousers—Perry used a spongy gray jersey and a black perforated fabric with zero stretch. A fabric foil in the vein of Warhol’s silver clouds was used cleverly on an oversize sweatshirt. (It would have been too obvious on one of her classic shifts.)

The final look—a bubble dress in the perforated black fabric—appeared more like a skirt being worn as a shirt than an actual party frock. But for that misstep Perry can be forgiven. All in all, it was a strong collection, one that didn’t ring too costumey or overwrought.



Tia Cibani Fall 2014 Ready To Wear

“I’ve always wanted to reference the whirling dervishes,” said designer Tia Cibani on Tuesday at her sliver of a studio in New York’s Meatpacking District. For Fall, she did just that, turning to her native North Africa for more than a little inspiration.

Today, the runway at her show venue, the Prince George Ballroom—a grand ol’, just-decrepit-enough place—was lined with Moroccan rugs bought just across the street. Cibani’s team handed out Turkish delights as favors, and mint tea was served in the lobby. The clothes followed suit, most obviously with elongated felt fezzes made by New York milliner Joy Kim.

Each look was a study in layers and proportion. For instance, a pair of slim cupro pants—traditionally called churidar—were worn under an A-line caftan, and a cropped, chunky, hand-knit sweater was paired with an above-the-ankle ball skirt in a “Damascus rose” brocade. That same floral was rendered digitally on a long gown, which skimmed the body at the front but billowed into a cape at the back. “Collapsing volume,” Cibani called it.

Iris Apfel was also a muse. “I was feeling very magpie,” Cibani said. It came through in the multiple shapes and styles on offer, from a bergamot-colored coat nipped in at the waist with a leather belt to the leopard-print tunic and matching legging trouser in rusty red. Cibani managed to cast a burnished patina over the whole collection, giving each piece a sense of belonging.


Joie Spring 2014 Ready To Wear

According to Serge Azria, Joie‘s Spring ’14 collection was all about celebrating—and elevating—white. “I wanted to make white not so simple,” said the contemporary label’s creative director and CEO during the presentation, which marked the twelve-year-old brand’s second New York fashion week effort. Joie’s new lineup was a palette cleanser, offering a host of easy separates and frocks in every tint of Azria’s chosen hue. He contrasted a stark white elongated blazer with a romantic pleated silk skirt in soft eggshell. Similarly, a sporty bright white sailing jacket popped against an oatmeal and black striped sweater.

Elsewhere, Azria enriched the shade with varying textures, like eyelet—used for a high-waisted cotton pencil skirt—or slick leather, which looked best as a pair of cropped, flair-calf trousers. The concept was applied to accessories, too—for instance, pointed cream and tan leather flats were laser-treated, causing them to look like they were made from stingray.

Inspired by a recent trip to Ponza, an island off the Amalfi Coast, Azria injected his Spring range with an air of vintage Italiana. One linen dress with a fitted skirt and blousy bodice that revealed just enough of the model’s décolleté was simultaneously effortless and va-va-voom. The Mediterranean inspiration also moved Azria to include pops of cerulean and navy. “All of the houses in Ponza were white and the doors were all blue. It looked like a painting!” he recalled. The scene was re-created in his Chelsea show space. He worked indigo into bold stripes, which ran down a three-quarter-length skirt, a billowing short-sleeved blouse, and a structured workwear jacket. An azure brushstroke print on a flippy little jupe was lovely, and a navy drawstring skirt—which was basically a silk, feminine alternative to sweatpants—looked particularly comfortable. Most of the spaghetti-strap and short-sleeved crop tops—while sweet on the models—will be near impossible to wear if you’re of normal human proportions. But a bouncy, open-back A-line frock had “summer classic” written all over it.


Rag & Bone Fall 2014 Menswear

Were the digital images of gridded boxes coded with hard-to-decipher label a clue to Rag & Bone’s Fall collection? They were projected wall-sized on the West Chelsea venue where the brand hosted its Fall ’14 menswear show, during a few days in New York that is starting to look, thanks to presentations from Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, as well as from R&B, like a fledgling New York menswear week of sorts. The screens served in a way as a self-diagnostic test for the spectators. The PR people saw seating charts; this reviewer saw a bingo card (analyze that, doctors). But it was hard to connect any hypothesis to the show once it began.

The collection for Fall took R&B a distance from the military-inflected one they showed for Spring and closer to their heritage of English tailoring and workwear. “I’m getting a little nostalgic at the moment,” Marcus Wainwright said. “If you look at our first-ever two shows, they were a lot like this.” He and David Neville showed a mix of tailored pieces with hardy staples: suits with tees or knits rather than collared shirts, accessorized hooded anoraks worn over pleated pants, and plenty of rugged work boots. There was a fifties flavor to the proportion, with it shorter shorts and higher-waist trousers, but the cut was modern: drop-crotched, carrot-shaped for the pants, with articulated seams borrowed from performance wear.

There were pieces that seemed lifted wholesale from an earlier era, like a few great bowling shirts—but they were stitched not with the wearers’ names, but instead with the words (and then, on the back, the numerals) Three or Five. One more riddle to solve, until Wainwright dispelled it: Rag does a strong business in number-printed T-shirts but didn’t feel like sending them out on a runway.

That may in fact be the key to Rag & Bone: Given the duo’s success, they can now do more or less whatever they want. Asked after the show about the numbered projections, Wainwright revealed that they were the projection company’s test cards; they just looked cool, so he asked them to keep them up for the preshow cocktail. (During the show itself, the projections switched to photographs by four photographers—Jeff Henrikson, Billy Kidd, Adam Whitehead, and Brian Ziegler—commissioned to shoot the models during their fittings. It was an effective conceit.) “That kind of is the key to the collection,” Wainwright said. “There wasn’t a theme, there wasn’t a big secret inspiration. It’s about the purity of menswear, and what we believe fashion should actually be. In my opinion, there’s a lot of fashion that really means nothing to a guy.”

Though the cut of those trousers seemed potentially challenging to a fashion-averse guy—”The two hardest things in menswear to sell are high waists and pleats, hands down,” Wainwright acknowledged—there was plenty that was appealing and salable to choose from, whether the mack-fabric trenches or the shearlings or those numbered bowling shirts. (R&B’s men’s collections have proven so appealing and salable, in fact, that women apparently buy a lot of them, hence the girls-in-menswear on the runway.)

It’s something of a riddle  that a show premised on purity and real clothing was as styled as this one was. But that, too, was seemingly easy to explain. “I think there’s a lot of backlash sometimes against things that are heritage these days,” Wainwright said. “People think that’s been done. Every menswear piece really comes from that in some way. But people should be focused on how clothes are put together.” The duo seem to have done some self-diagnosis of their own lately and settled on confining the tricks to the packaging while giving the clothes the cool but mostly unpretentious vibe of their early collections. The
appeal of that isn’t hard to decipher.





Stella McCartney Pre-Fall 2014

Only Stella McCartney can turn a Pre-Fall presentation into a genuine happening. Upstairs at New York’s Harold Pratt House last night, models were zinging around in miniature electric cars, playing hopscotch, and dancing to a live band. Downstairs, the designer mingled with the likes of Susan Sarandon, Jerry Seinfeld, Liv Tyler, and Patti Smith. Cool just seems to come naturally to her. Even when she’s working hard, she makes it look easy, and that attitude carries over to her clothes. It’s one of the major keys to their success.

This season, McCartney conjured memories of her oldest sister, who was plucked from London’s edgy street scene and relocated to an organic farm in the middle of the countryside not long after McCartney was born. “She was a major punk, hanging out with Steve Strange, Billy Idol. The collection is a mix of the harshness of the urban environment, softened through different mediums.” Classic houndstooths were manipulated until they looked almost like the petals of a flower. Fringed woolen jackets wrapped around the body like blankets (one of Pre-Fall’s key trends). Streamlined mesh cocktail dresses were adorned with arabesques of fringe. And speaking of cool, the designer turned graphic drawings of female faces and bodies by her friend, the British artist Gary Hume, into intarsias on sweaters and knit dresses. (It would seem that McCartney has always been hooked into the scene.)

Everything was immanently wearable, a point she drove home by pairing looks for day and night with menswear loafers.




Michael Kors Fall 2013 RTW

You are fast-paced, athletic, and chic. You race all over from the Lower East to the Upper East Side…Make them die with envy!” Those were the notes for the models backstage at Michael Kors’ show this morning. The designer sometimes takes us on a trip to Aspen or New England for Fall. This season he stayed in town, with somewhat mixed results.

Feeling urban and sporty, he lifted taxicab yellow and caution orange from the New York streets and juxtaposed them with plenty of the city girl’s go-to black. Many of the tailored pieces seemed built for speed with rounded shoulders and aerodynamic double-face construction; black patent trim and taped seams evoked the world of car racing or maybe scuba. Goggles added to that feeling.

Mixing his metaphors, Kors also threw in all sorts of camouflage for the girls and the boys, most luxuriously in multicolor mink. That’ll get you noticed on the sidewalk. Still, he was most convincing when he played it low-key. Plenty of urban warriors at the show would kill for his charcoal gray wool melton overcoat and the pantsuit shown underneath it. A plonge leather cropped jacket and zipped-slit pencil skirt would really take girls places. Same goes for the designer’s clingy ribbed knits.



J.Crew Fall 2013

Inspirations are funny things—you can never tell how they’ll work themselves out. This Fall, Frank Muytjens was thinking of David Bailey’s iconic (an overused word, but apropos here) photos of Michael Caine in the sixties. In the most famous of these, with dangling cigarette and heavy specs, Caine, despite being in his seductive Alfie phase, is dressed as soberly as a Bible salesman, in black suit and tie.

Muytjens mined the Englishness—Cool Britannia has never again been as cool as that—and left the rest for a later day. He’s been pushing color at J.Crew, so Caine’s black suit became one in Black Watch Harris Tweed. The storied mill provided many of the suiting fabrics, joined by other factories like Abraham Moon, Marling & Evans, and Barberis cashmere. The upscaling of the Crew—at least the parts that make it to New York fashion week—has been so slow and steady that it can take a minute to appreciate the coup that bringing such fabrics to the broader public really is.

But while J.Crew is pushing finery on one hand, the label is celebrating the homespun and hard-worn on the other. Denim jackets in a rusty tobacco brown were styled into several looks. Gray sweatpants were patched and repatched, and the new jean style was a painter’s pant. The stated inspiration for these were Paul Strand’s photographs of Scottish fishermen, less polished than Alfie by a factor of forty.

The collision between workman and gentleman is one J.Crew has been staging for seasons. Here, the tension between the two felt more fraught than it sometimes has, and less resolved. But if  some looks read insistently styled, mark it down to the fact that J.Crew offers, in its  choose-your-own-adventure way, something for parties on both sides of the divide. How you wear  it all is up to you.




DKNY Spring 2014

Primary school in primary colors. That was the feeling at DKNY’s men’s presentation, where models wore playground favorites updated for a modern city guy. “What we don’t like is for anything to be too basic,” said Umberto Leoni, the line’s head of design.

For this collection, not too basic meant gray suede detailing on a sporty red anorak, or stretch lining on a cropped leather peacoat in the sunniest of yellows. A varsity jacket—the silhouette of choice for hip city guys over the past few seasons—was given a techy upgrade with the addition of an iPhone-specific pocket in the interior. And a blazer made of bonded neoprene attempted to bring innovation to a classic silhouette, although, much like the “sweatshirt” blazers that were popular a few years ago, something about that fabric in that shape feels wrong.

A T-shirt illustrated with robots best encapsulated the collection’s “I can still dress like a kid if I want to” vibe. Dudes whose careers require that they look like a real adult day to day should try the cornflower blue topper—jaunty, but not too jaunty—and a classic two-button suit in a lightweight wool.